LEWISTON — The weight of the moment started to creep in.

A national championship was at stake and only one period of regulation hockey remained. The score was tied, but something didn’t feel quite right for the Portland Junior Pirates Premier girls’ hockey team.

“We’re like, ‘What do we need to do?'” Lauren Deblois, a freshman defenseman from Lewiston, said. “We were all like, ‘We’re not having fun.’ We’re usually laughing and joking and having fun during the game. It wasn’t happening. We went out in the third period, and we made it fun and we got a goal to win.”

That win, a 2-1 victory over the East Coast Wizards of Bedford, Mass, lifted the Junior Pirates to the USA Hockey Tier II national championship in East Lansing, Mich., last Monday, putting the exclamation point on an amazing season for a team that featured four Lewiston players — Deblois, Paige Fontaine, Allison Frechette and Bree Bergeron.

“We took the best players from each high school team around Maine and put it together for one purpose,” said Fontaine, a senior goalie. “That purpose was to win nationals. We accomplished that. It’s unbelievable, and I’m just so proud of the whole team.”

Fontaine, Deblois and Frechette, a sophomore forward, were part of a Lewiston High School team that won a state title in February. Bergeron is an eighth-grader at Lewiston Middle School.

For Fontaine, the national championship win was a wonderful end to her high school hockey career. She made 20 saves, many coming in the frantic final two minutes to help secure the win.

“I can’t imagine repeating this year the way we did,” Fontaine said. “I can’t imagine a better senior year, winning two states titles, a regional and a national championship. That’s amazing.”

While the MPA’s state title was a thrill for the Blue Devils players, a national title was something far greater.

“The way I felt at the state championship in high school was nothing compared to what I felt in winning nationals,” Frechette said. “I’d dreamed about winning nationals since I was a little kid. Being able to be in that position, everyone was jumping on each other, it just gives you a great feeling in your heart. It’s just a nice feeling.”

Bergeron was the youngest member of the team, and did not win a state title with Lewiston this year. So being part of Monday’s victory was a new experience.

“It’s so surreal,” Bergeron said. “We all just stood there on the blue line hugging and they’re announcing that we’re national champions.”

The roster for the girls’ U19 squad has some of the top players from girls’ high school programs around the state. The lineup included Greely High School’s Danita Storey,Elizabeth Gross and Alyssa Hulst, both of Scarborough High School, and Falmouth High School’s Sarah Hutcheon and Martina St. Angelo. The coaches were former Portland Pirates captain Kent Hulst and Paul Michaud-Nolan.

“We realized that if we all put our time and effort into this, we could go somewhere,” Fontaine said. “It was amazing how everyone worked together.”

Fontaine was the only local player with the Pirates last year. She was primarily the backup goalie. With about half of last year’s team back, this squad looked promising. There was a connection among players right away.

“The first practice, before everyone really knew each other, we were getting along so well and we were working so well on the ice together,” said Deblois, who had played on a boys’ team in previous years but wanted to try this Pirates team. “I knew it was going to be a good year.”

Frechette felt at home right away, even though she was one of the newcomers this year. It was an adjustment learning a new system with a new team, but the players made her feel comfortable.

“I was really nervous,” Frechette said. “I’d only talked to (Deblois, Bergeron and Fontaine) when we started playing together. Then you felt part of the family right away. You felt loved. It was better than any other team I’ve been on.”

It was a new experience and a higher level for Bergeron. The players were faster and more skilled. They were also willing to help her.

“They treated me like their little sister,” Bergeron said. “They took me in. I did learn a lot. I would not be the player that I am now if it wasn’t for that.”

The Pirates swept through the state tourney, outscoring teams 28-1. The momentum continued in the regionals held in Rhode Island. The Pirates won all five games to advance to the national tournament. The team won all six games during the five-day tourney, outscoring teams 33-4.

“Once we won regionals, I knew we had a good chance to win nationals,” Bergeron said. “When we were down by one, we could always pump each other up. We kept each other going. We always had fun. We never got down on each other.”

After a 3-0 start in pool play, the Pirates pounded Big Sky of Montana, 9-1, and beat Marquette, Mich., 6-1, in the semifinals.

“We were still working at it,” Fontaine said of the lopsided wins. “We were having fun, and we were working our butts off, but they were well-deserved wins.”

Though they felt their opponents were competitive teams, the Junior Pirates were just playing with confidence and performing well together, even though they were the youngest squad in the field.

“We don’t lose,” Deblois said. “We find a way to get the W.”

That was the case in the championship game. It was a tight battle but goals by Aimley Michaud-Nolan, of Wells, and Storey gave the Pirates the offense it needed. Fontaine and the defense held off the late rally.

“That last game was the game that I had the most shots on me,” Fontaine said. “The last two minutes were the most shots I’d gotten the whole tournament.”

Hulst was the tourney’s top scorer with three goals and 14 assists, while Gross and Mary Morrison, of Cumberland, each had five goals.

“I was pumped and ready to go,” Frechette said about the championship game. “I wanted to win so bad. I’d never gone that far with any hockey team I’d ever been on. So being there, playing that game, I just wanted to go out there and do the best I could.”

A few days after the victory, the players were still soaking it all in. The four local players relished the experienced but missed their teammates. A wonderful ride had come to an end. The team finished the year 30-4-2.

“I already miss the whole team,” Fontaine said. “A day doesn’t go by without wanting to be with the team.”

They hold onto their championship medals and their memories of a great season. It was full of lessons learned and great experiences. And some fun too.

“I can’t remember not having a good time during a hockey game,” Frechette said. “We had so much fun during the game. We were all just like family.”

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